Yesterday’s news was dominated by discussion and analysis of items from the Mueller report. The overall reaction from the politicians and journalists who read the entire report was one of shock. Many felt the report depicted an even more stunningly dysfunctional White House than was previously known. And many felt that the accumulation of evidence painted a picture of criminal obstruction of justice by Trump beyond the pervasive unethical and corrupt conduct.
One of the people who drew this conclusion was presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who was the first candidate to publicly call for an impeachment hearing of Trump. Warren noted that the possible impact of impeachment on the 2020 election was not a consideration–it was the duty of Congress to consider impeachment as a matter of principle, given the extensive corruption in the White House. Even though impeachment would never pass the Senate, a house impeachment verdict would send a signal to the country that no president is above the law and that Democrats were the party upholding the rule of law in the face of a dishonest and corrupt president.
It also seems that Trump believed AG Barr’s dishonest summary of the Mueller report. Trump seems to have expected that the release of the report would bolster his exoneration and boost his popularity and “ratings”. But the opposite happened. The report was a devastating exposé of corruption, lies and abuse of authority and Trump remains under intense criticism with his approval rating sinking three points, going from 40 to 37%. Trump’s reaction was predictably rash and vulgar. He went on a Twitter rampage yesterday, calling elements of the report “bullshit”, confirming his place as the least dignified president in modern history.
It’s clear from the Mueller report that Trump deserves impeachment. As Senator Warren noted, “the evidence is overwhelming.” His conduct was significantly worse than Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, and struck at the heart of our Democratic system while at the same time debasing and besmirching the office of the president. But while the political calculation ahead will be difficult for the Democrats, it’s important to note that the Republican impeachment of Bill Clinton did not hurt the GOP in the next election. They (barely) won the presidency with Dubya and retained control of the Senate. It’s also important to keep in mind that the House should, at the very least, vote to censure the president, which is purely symbolic but nonetheless an expression of principle.
Here’s great coverage of the impeachment question in the New York Times by Michelle Goldberg:
Setting aside the collusion, corruption, obstruction of justice and pervasive dishonesty of this White House, there is another aspect of the horrible Trump train-wreck that we as activists can’t forgive or forget:
Russia cyber-attacked our democracy and election, and Trump did nothing, and Trump continues to do nothing.
This betrayal alone should merit impeachment. But it’s also a compelling issue for the 2020 election. Trump FAILED to protect us from Russian interference, which the Mueller report confirms in a big way. And he continues to FAIL to protect us. He’s weak on cyber security, weak on Russia, weak on defense. We are less safe from Russia, not to mention China, North Korea and Iran, under a Trump presidency. And this should matter to many voters.